We are 5+ months out now, a time when a lot of grieving people notice that they have been—-unintentionally of course—-left alone with their grief. We are grateful this hasn’t happened, that so many wonderful people continue to reach out to us. Thank you, thank you. It means so much…. because I will be honest—-it is not getting easier. In many ways, it is worse.
We lost Caitlin in winter and because winter lasted forever, time felt elastic, a time in which she still existed, was still somewhat ‘of the present.’ Now, New England has done its thing and jumped from raw/rainy/nasty/cold to suddenly-summer. A new season that emphasizes the finality of her absence. Yet every day we still experience the jolt: it can‘t be true. That jolt that is followed by images of her face, her voice, her presence. The despair of never seeing her again.
Yes, I do get a lot of ‘signs,’ but the human me is still missing the human her. And I know it’s the same for Nick. Philosophical reflection can only give you so much comfort, so early in this sad game. But… writing on the blog helps bring her close. For the past month, I’ve felt I should write something, if only for myself. So here goes.
Caitlin and I were last in London together in 2012, a year that was magical for a ton of reasons. During that visit, on her own, she visited a place she had heard about and loved the moment she stepped inside its walls: the Chelsea Physic Garden, the world’s second oldest apothecary’s medicinal garden.
This past April, Jess and I, as well as my sister Kate, traveled to London, where we spent time with Sinead and with each other. We visited the Chelsea Physic Garden in honor of our buddy.
It was as beautiful as Caitlin had described, and also served to remind me that modern medicine is still quite new, that it is all still—really—so primitive. It also reminded me, once again, that Nick and I were lucky to have our CF child for 33 years, to have lived in the first century where children weren’t expected to die.
Everywhere, there were reminders of the battle Caitlin faced all her life with those diseased lungs.
Of course I brought along the photo.
And found a little hide-away.
At the Chelsea Physic Garden
It reminded me of a beautiful drive that Caitlin and I made through the Arnold Arboretum, with Henry, right after she was first listed three years ago.
On other days, we saw some art, both official and of the street.
David Hockney at the Tate
Shoreditch. Street art. We all got our wings.
BACK IN MASS
I returned in May to a month I had been kind of dreading. Mother’s Day and my birthday are always back-to-back, and for three decades, waking up to the surprises my daughter had left for me made those days more special than any other holiday. But everyone made it really nice for me.
I can make myself cry thinking about it.
Look at these sweet babies. The hidden one was born a day later. 🙂
Now it’s June, and Facebook keeps serving up “On This Day” memories, like the ones that popped up yesterday to nudge me into writing this post.
That time in 2012, Caitlin said goodbye to me in London to travel to the apartment she had rented in Paris. It had been a dream of hers—-to spend long, solid weeks, living alone, in the city she loved so much.
Her (truly) giant, heavy suitcase contained weeks worth of meds, syringes, neb cups, plus her bulky nebulizer and portable oxygen machine. Such a big suitcase and only the tiniest bundle of clothes and toiletries. In another life, she would have been a backpacking Peace Corps volunteer.
I was worried but full of admiration. And off she went, that June 1st, 2012 morning, in a taxi to the Chunnel train.
JESS & ANDREW
Everyone asks how they are. Here are updates:
Andrew is still in Vietnam, teaching, but says that he is coming home soon. I sent him pictures of these tacos I made with Maine lobster meat, to try and lure him. I hope it worked. He’s been eating things like bugs, and although he finds his Vietnamese diet healthy, he’s missing Maine and his friends and family.
Last weekend, for fun, he played in a big poker competition. As one of the finalists, he won a trip to a Manila casino to continue the competition.
Andrew in Hanoi last weekend.
But the Manila casino is the one that was bombed today, Isis claiming responsibility for 37 killed.
Yet another example of how precious ‘it’ all is. Our lives. Our planet. I have joined an activist group that some of my very dear friends are running: Mothers Out Front, a fast-growing organization that is “mobilizing for a livable climate.” Western PA friends, I will be getting in touch, as the group needs a Western PA presence! I went to the annual fundraiser a couple of weeks ago and Gina McCarthy, former head of the EPA, was the most kick-ass, inspiring speaker I’ve heard in a long time.
**OKAY*** Again, you can’t make this stuff up! JUST as I typed that paragraph, I was distracted by a text from Nick. I opened the IM window, which also revealed my Gmail window and what email had just arrived into my inbox? This from Gina McCarthy.
Anyone, anywhere, not just here in MA, not just PA: I urge you to check out Mothers Out Front, and feel empowered by joining with others who speak your language.
Jess is still undergoing her cancer treatments every three weeks. She’s had some complications but they have not stopped her from traveling. Last week she got back from a beautiful boat trip in Croatia with her mom and sister, and today she is headed to Barcelona.
- Beautiful Jess ❤
She’s a real-life angel. Trust me.
I’ve been sorting through Caitlin’s things and I will post some of her stuff soon.